Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit, has sold the fitness company to entrepreneur Eric Roza – two weeks after Glassmann faced fierce backlash for a tweet relating to the murder of George Floyd.
Glassman’s comments on social media – in which he questioned why he should mourn for Mr Floyd – resulted in a number of partner companies, gyms, elite athletes and sportswear brands (including Reebok) cutting ties with the business.
Glassman – who was the sole owner of Crossfit – had already stepped down as CEO on 8 June, following the backlash. He has now gone a step further, relinquishing control and cutting his ties with Crossfit entirely.
Following Glassman’s departure, Roza – a tech executive and owner of a CrossFit gym in Boulder, Colorado – will also take up the role of CEO.
Roza is a former chief executive of data for Datalogix and chair of TrueCoach, a software company for personal trainers.
In a statement, he said he would be “working hard to rebuild bridges”.
“In the past weeks, divisive statements and allegations have left many members of our community struggling to reconcile our transformative experiences in the local box with what we’ve been reading online,” Roza said.
“My view is simple: Racism and sexism are abhorrent and will not be tolerated in CrossFit. We open our arms to everyone, and I will be working hard to rebuild bridges with those whose trust we have lost.
“I come to you with deep humility and the realisation that we have hard work to do. I am committed to listening, I am committed to learning, and I am committed to leading positive change. Most of all, I am committed to CrossFit and to you, as a member of our community.
“If you are committed to the future of CrossFit and have ideas, I want to hear from you. And if you loved CrossFit, and we lost you along the way, I want to regain your trust and partnership.”
As well as his comments over George Floyd, an article in The New York Times accused Glassman of sexual harassment of female employees,putting further pressure on his position.
• Background: the fall of Greg Glassman
On 6 June, Glassman responded to a tweet by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) which read: “Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response.”
Glassman referenced the COVID-19 pandemic, replying with: “It’s Floyd-19.”
There was widespread condemnation of the tweet and multiple franchised CrossFit gyms announced they would be dropping their affiliation with the company.
Retail giant, Reebok, confirmed it was ending its partnership with CrossFit – which was in the process of being extended – at the end of 2020.
The following day, on 7 June, Glassman issued a public apology, saying: “I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism.
“I made a mistake with the words I chose yesterday. My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake.”
However, the effect of Glassman’s tweet was compounded after a screenshot of an email exchange between himself and the well-known CrossFit community member and nine-year affiliate owner of Seattle’s Rocket CrossFit, Alyssa Royse, went viral.
Royse initiated the exchange by emailing Glassman and CrossFit execs to say that Rocket ‘will be changing its name to Rocket Community Fitness, and likely disaffiliating from CrossFit when it’s time to renew’.
She claimed the brand was losing value and that its silence during the Black Lives Matter movement has been thoroughly disappointing.
The exchange with Royse occurred before Glassman posted his controversial tweet.
According to the photo, Glassman told Royse: “I sincerely believe the quarantine has adversely impacted your mental health.”
The screenshot shows how Glassman called Royse “deluded” and “manipulative” and concluded by saying “you’re doing your best to brand us as racist when you know it’s bullshit. That makes you a really shitty person…you’ve let your politics warp you into something that strikes me as wrong to the point of evil.”